12/01/2018

10 Shows - Shinedown is Family

Photo: Sanjay Parikh

I always had a problem believing people when they said "Dreams do come true" because this mostly comes from those who already reached their goals, who seem to be far away from where I am at right now. However, this past month taught me that they were right and that I was wrong. Dreams do come true. In fact, Stef and I were living the dream. The life we wanted to live. 


When we went to those Shinedown shows in June, I already thought that this was it - it wouldn't get any better or closer. That night in Groningen seemed to be the top of what I could ever get. Again, I was wrong.


We started out with this crazy idea: "Let's do 10 shows all over Europe on this tour." So we bought tickets, we planned our travels, we planned our stays at different cities. People kept telling me that was insane. I didn't care. I had the chance to do this, I wouldn't let that slip away. 


The first show in Manchester seems ages ago now. No idea why, but I was actually really nervous before. It had only been three months since I had last seen Shinedown, but it felt different. With every show we did, this Shinedown Roadtrip evolved into what might have been the most wonderful, most insane and all in all best time I ever had. Each show was better than the one before, each travel had me more excited. I had gone through every possible emotion on this trip. I met so many wonderful people, saw beautiful places and I still can't really cope with everything that happened to me. 

Photo: Sanjay Parikh
This has been so special and precious and now that it has come to an end, I don't really know what all of this is about now. I don't understand how these last weeks could actually be my life. I don't know how this could be or why I deserve this, but I am very very grateful for every second of it. I'd never imagined something like this to be possible for me - but this has been my reality and I still feel so very priviledged that I could live this dream for a month now. I'm circling around this, sorry.


This Shinedown Roadtrip showed me that Shinedown really is family. Shinedown and their crew. I am about to say a few words about some of the people who made this whole experience so very special and I know that I repeat myself in this. I just want to somehow express how grateful I am, but no words are strong enough to describe how I feel. 

Whatever.


Adam, Lewis and Luke of Press to Meco: You went up on stage every night and put on a great show, no matter if the audience is into it or not. You are amazing people and seeing you all these times made me overly happy. I was looking forward to your set all the time and think you are very talented. Thank you for being the kindest and funniest people. I'll see you in Germany next time. 

Brian, Adam and everyone else in and around Starset: What you put on when you are on stage is insane. You have definitely won a new fan in me and I'll sure come back to see you headlining a show. Thank you for all the times you put a camera right in my face, Brian. Hope you could get some great shots of Stef and me losing it. Thank you for not killing me with the drumstick, Adam. And in general for being such great people. 


John, Hoogie, Sparky, Primo and everyone else in the Shinedown Crew: Thank you for everything you do at the shows. Thank you for making all of this possible. Thank you for taking care of us. With you I always felt safe and very welcome. Thank you for being so nice to us even though we were just standing in the way sometimes. Thank you for talking to us and sharing your stories with us. Thank you for throwing picks at our heads, for photobombing our pictures and for all the fun we had with you guys and girls. You are the real heroes and we appreciate and love you for what you do and who you are. Thank you for making us feel like we belong to your family. It means so much.


Sanjay: I hope you know how wonderful you are. Your pictures are amazing and your work is inspiring. Because of you I actually really want to try for the application for photography studies next year. You are always so sweet and kind to us and I really don't know how to thank you for all of this. The world needs more people like you, really. Thank you for being in my life now.


Matt: You know all of this already. You're family, you really are. And I really hope you're alright and that things play out the way you want them to. You helped me more than you might know and I can't imagine going through life without you anymore. Thank you for making me feel loved, safe, and wanted. You deserve nothing but the best. My world is better now because of you. I love you much.


Zach: When I was feeling down in 2016, you were the one to actually made me feel like I wasn't invisible to the world, like people did care about me. This year, you showed me all of this again because I forgot about it. Thank you for doing this, for being over here even though it's hard for you. The rest is in the letters. Thank you, so much, for everything.


Barry: Your positivity is so contagious that I really wish you were around more often. Thank you for taking care of Stef and me, especially her. Thank you for all the fun, the laughter and funny faces. You are a legend. 


Eric: Your strength helps other people to get through their darkness and this is something overly important. You are inspiring to many and I am grateful to know you. Your talent is insane and I believe there's not one thing on earth you wouldn't be brilliant at. Thank you for appreciating us so much, for always showing some love, even when you're not feeling well. Thank you, really.


Brent: I have no idea how I deserve to know someone like you, to have you in my life. You did so much for Stef and me during these last weeks and you did so much for me earlier this year already. I just want to give something back to you and I hope there will be a way that I can make up for all of this one day. I could write another letter about all of these things, so I'll try to keep it short. Thank you for everything, always. It means the world to me. I love you. 


Stef: ... I can't believe it's not even a year that we know each other because it feels like you've been with me all my life. And I wish I met you earlier, before you had to go through all you've been through. I wish I could've been there to tell you that: YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. YOU ARE NEEDED. You understand me like no other and I am so happy and grateful we could do this together. I hope you know how much you deserve to be happy. I love you. And you will always have a place here. Never forget how important you are, to me, to many others, to the world. 


...

Thank you to everyone who made this possible for me, to my family and friends who were cheering for this even more than I did sometimes, to the wonderful people I met along the way. I love you. Thank you.

It's never goodbye. It's just 'till next time. 

11/20/2018

Shinedown Roadtrip: Antwerp

Photo: Sanjay Parikh
Kilometers traveled: 5.260

Shows: 6/10

I never thought I could love Shinedown even more, but with every show I go to my love for these people grows. 

The show in Antwerp was simply beautiful. Stef and I had a little down phase after the Frankfurt show, so Antwerp was meant to be even more important to us. And it was just so very beautiful. 

Photo: Sanjay Parikh
It actually started out quite strange because people that mean a lot to us were not having the best day ever. I still want to hug Matt for several reasons. So Stef and I were a little worried about what to expect that night.

Cliff, a really cool guy who came to see Starset and did the Starset meet and greet, kept us a spot in the front row. Thanks again, that was awesome! 

Photo: Sanjay Parikh
That night, Shinedown played "Amaryllis" accoustic. As some of you might now, this song is really important to me. I got its lyrics tattoed and I even wrote a book about the album. So it meant the world to me to hear it live again after so many years. 

After the show, we met the band at the bus and talking to them was just really good. Also, Matt gives the best hugs I must say. Right now I am just so happy and filled with love for all these people, for everyone in Shinedown and Crew, everyone in Starset and their crew and for Press to Meco of course. This whole experience is amazing and I don't know how to get through the next days without seeing all these people. 

Thank you so much to the overly talented Sanjay Parikh for the amazing pictures you took of us. You are the best!


11/17/2018

Shinedown Roadtrip: Frankfurt



Kilometers traveled: 4.782


Shows: 5/10

I can't believe we're already halfway through this roadtrip. It feels unreal and I don't want this to end.


Frankfurt was an amazing show. I had one of my closest friends with me, the gorgeous Carolin from Würzburg, and it was our first concert together. It was also her very first Shinedown show ever. And it was the first time for months that we saw each other which was just really important. 


So we went into the show. 

I already said something about Press to Meco and how cool they are. Now let me focus a little more on the "Special Guest" part of the show: Starset.

When the tour was announced, Stef told me to listen to Starset before the first show. She's a fan of that band, too, and I totally understand why. Their music convinced me the first time I heard "Carnivore". But what I didn't know was just how incredible their live shows are. They go up on stage in space suits, they have so much gear, they are seven people on stage. It's insane. And the music is even better when they play it live. During this whole tour, I'm not only looking forward to seeing Shinedown, I also really celebrate the Starset set. It's amazing. This band really won some new fans as my friends who came to some shows and I will most definitely go to the next Starset tour to see them as headliner. 


In Frankfurt, Shinedown played "Misfits" accoustic which was beautiful. Carolin, too, was convinced of that band (and had a really nice talk with Matt and Zach after the show - guess she will now and forever be introduced as my bodyguard). Her favorite song is "Brilliant", so the ending of the show gave her the high she definitely deserved. And, after three attempts that failed, I finally got a wristband from Zach (thanks for trying to give it to me so many times). 

Now that half of the Shinedown Roadtrip is over, all I can say is: I am so overly happy that we are doing this and I would definitely do it again. This band is worth every cent, every second of waiting in the cold, every missed meal and missing hour of sleep. I love these people so much.

11/16/2018

Shinedown Roadtrip: Tilburg


Kilometers traveled: 4.426

Shows: 4/10

For our fourth Shinedown show on this roadtrip we drove to Tilburg, Netherlands. I had been there before to see Halestorm in October and the experience when we left the car and walked to the venue was the same again: We almost got run over by multiple bycicles. 



But eventually, we made it to 013 Poppodium. 

Now, before I go on, I have to say something about a certain person with quite amazing hair and a really good heart: Matt Healy made every single show of this trip funnier and better than it already was. And even though he is wrong about all cats being evil, this whole thing wouldn't have been as amazing without him. We're only halfway through but I thought it's time to say thank you: Thank you, Matt, for taking care of us, for making us laugh, for taking ridiculous pictures and videos of us, for all the other things you do - for everything basically. We love you. 


This show in Tilburg was super emotional for me. Shinedown played several songs that remind me of rather dark times, of certain people, of myself and the struggles I went through. Songs like "The Crow and the Butterfly", "Unity", but most of all "Call Me". Stef and I couldn't even sing along because we were crying. The thing is, these tears are okay for me because I know where they come from. And even though I might not always be alright, the music and Shinedown taught me to move on. But sometimes, it's just a mood I'm in and when a certain song hits me I just can't help it. That's just how it is. One step at a time.

I also want to mention how incredibly sweet Brent Smith was at this show. He seemed super worried because of us crying and made sure we're okay. Thank you for that.

I love these guys. I love Stef. I love Matt. Thank you for everything. 

11/15/2018

Shinedown Roadtrip: Cologne



Kilometers traveled: 4.050

Shows: 3/10

The third show on our Shinedown Roadtrip was in Cologne, the one closest to my hometown. We got there quite early and experienced to full extent what it means to spend time in Cologne on 11/11 - the day they start celebrating Carnival (just FYI a crazy cat lady threw a plush cat at me). 

We saw Shinedown playing in the Live Music Hall, the venue where I got to see them for the very first time more than six years ago. Stef and I both brought some friends for this show, so there was the seven of us.

As this was the first show in mainland Europe for us, I was excited how the crowd would be different. And what can I say: This was the best Shinedown show I've seen on this tour so far. 

I want to focus a little more on the support band on this run: Press to Meco.


These three guys really made the crowd move in Cologne. I believe it's not easy if people don't know you and are actually rather annoyed because they want to see the other bands. But Press to Meco put on their show night after night and it's actually really a fun show if you move and let it move you. (That means, please, don't just stand still like a rock when the support band comes out. They deserve your respect and they deserve the chance to move you.)

Also, these guys are just super nice and their music makes a good warm up for the following bands. In Cologne, the people actually gave them the chance to get the crowd moving and it was hilarious. People were having so much fun and it seemed as if Press to Meco did, too.

The energy of the whole evening was amazing. Shinedown, too, put up one hell of a show again. The atmosphere was simply stunning as everyone really felt it and the stage-crowd-interaction was awesome I think. Everything was so positive, not even "Through the Ghost" could make us cry that night (even though it was incredibly beautiful). 

Cologne was the first show of three in a row and it was a really good start. Then we went on to Tilburg.

11/10/2018

Shinedown Roadtrip: London


Kilometers traveled: 3.904

Shows: 2/10

London has always been one of my favorite cities and I've been there every year since 2012. My first concert ever in a foreign country was Shinedown in London, in the same venue they played this time. It was also Zach's birthday, so pretty much everything about this second show was special to me.

We waited almost all day in front of the venue because we wanted to make it to the front and didn't have meet & greet this time. So, yes, eight hours at the o2 Academy Brixton for us. Fortunately enough, there were some amazing people waiting with Stef and me.

Due to Shinedown I met so many beautiful and lovely people. Stef, of course. But also Lara, Stine, Sissel and Debs. And those are only the ones I know from the London show. Others that I'd love to mention are Rike, Em, Rita and Gabrielle. All these Shinedown fans I got to know during the years are super kind and lovely and spending time with them makes me really happy. It is simply beautiful how there is never a jealous word to be heard between these people and how we can just be good friends because of the music that connects us. 

The show in London had me emotionally all over the place. First of all, the venue let about 100 people in before us only because they had a certain mobile phone provider (which had not been checked, by the way). So Stef and I ended up in the second row behind some really nice people. Unfortunately, the people behind us were drunk and out of control, so during the show Stef and I both got hurt quite badly. To get this clear, I totally understand that sometimes you accidently hit someone because you're having a good time. Most people realize that, say sorry and help you up then. That's okay. But those people were drunk and/or on drugs and they shouldn't have been there like this.  


Shinedown still killed it! They played an amazing show and managed to make us happy anyways. When the whole venue sang happy birthday for Zach, he got really emotional on stage which I think was absolutely beautiful. Then he and Eric played "Don't look back in Anger" again. 

So, to take all the positive aspects of this day and show, I want to thank the amazing people that hung out with us before, at and after the show. I want to thank Barry, Brent, Eric and Zach for making everything better. I want to thank Matt and John for taking care of us. And I want to thank Stef for being herself and for being such a wonderful friend.

11/03/2018

Shinedown Roadtrip: Manchester


Kilometers traveled: 2.680

Shows: 1/10

The last Shinedown show I've been to was in June, only four months ago. Still it felt like years. But now the Shinedown Roadtrip is really on and it couldn't have started in any better way.





I first traveled to Hamburg to meet my dear friend and Shinedown-travel-partner Stef, then we headed to Manchester for the first show on this run for us. The concert happened to be on Halloween, so we were super excited for what might happen then.


First of all, Manchester is such a beautiful city. I had never been there before and I really loved it. It has some beautiful architecture and many small and lovely cafés and restaurants. 

The venue for the Shinedown show was the Manchester Academy. We were there quite early, but soon enough other Shinedown fans arrived. 


For our first show we bought a meet and greet with the band - before the show. I had never been to such an official Shinedown meet and greet before and wasn't quite sure what I should expect. Well, it was amazing. The band took their time to talk to everyone, sign whatever the people had brought and just appreciate every single fan that came there. It was good to talk to them again (even though, for a second, I feared Brent wouldn't recognize me - but fortunately he did, on which he commented "oh shit" and then hugged me). Then they took photos with everyone and if people had more or less crazy ideas for their picture (for example that everyone should sit down) Barry, Brent, Eric and Zach just did it. So, yes, the meet and greet is expensive, but I think it was worth the money. 

And the show was fantastic.

I know I'm not objective when it comes to this, but I think you could ask whoever you want and they would all say the same thing: Shinedown live is simply perfect. 

photo: Matt Healy
The guys entered the stage full of energy and started with three heavier songs. Still, Brent Smith took his time to get down from stage and greet some of the fans there. And even if they slow down a little and put on a ballad, Shinedown never give less than 120 %. 


As it was Manchester, Stef and I had hoped to hear the Oasis cover which then really happened: Zach Myers sang "Don't look back in Anger" with the crowd. And it was fantastic. This song is really important to me because it helped me through the year I was away from home. My best friend and I even got the lyrics tattoed. And funny enough, I only started to listen to this song due to Zach playing it in Hamburg and Nijmegen 2016. Also, the Halloween spirit came across when Barry Kerch walked on stage with a goat mask on during "Simple Man". So this show had it all: emotions, fun, energy, power and so much talent all in one band. 


Halloween after the show.

For me personally, this first show of this Roadtrip was just everything I needed. It was so good to see all these wonderful people again: Stef, the Shinedown crew, especially Matt & John, and of course Zach, Eric, Brent and Barry. If I could I would be around them more often as they are all so very kind, funny; just good people. 



Now London's next. I'm really looking forward to that. And it has only just begun.